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international news _ 13th November, 2006

New York Party Police Hit 3 More Superclubs

Text by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

Cops closed down the Roxy, Happy Valley and Avalon in New York City last week in their latest onslaught against nightclubs in Manhattan.

While Roxy was shuttered for alleged non-payment of taxes and Happy Valley over a property dispute with the buildings landlords, Avalon (formerly known as Limelight) was shut for violating the Cabaret Laws, New York’s infamous 1920’s era anti-dancing statutes.

According to press reports, Avalon promoters were unable to renew their Cabaret License after being barred access from the building following an earlier raid, which meant they couldn’t obtain necessary paperwork in time. Leading club promoter John Blair, who previously was forced to close Spirit and hosted Sunday night parties at Avalon, as well as events at Roxy, told the Village Voice he was disgusted by the latest police tactics.

"I’ve been in it (club promotion) for 30 years but no longer. I’m not going to invest in anything or own anything in New York City again,” he pledged, “The police have turned the city into a Gestapo state."

Avalon co-promoter Susanne Bartsch, who was hosting a Halloween party at the club when police raided at 1.45am, said she was personally harassed, with one officer refusing to allow her back inside the building after she went outside to meet her husband and deal with the raid.

"He was so disgusting, the policeman was willing to send me into the night without a handbag, without money, without keys,” she told New York Blade, “They say they are trying to protect people, but it symbolizes how unreasonable they are. They are just out to get the clubs."

Avalon director of operations Ricky Mercado was equally angry, declaring ‘it's just like they are saying, 'Nightclubs—get the fuck out of New York City’, while Larry Tee, who was DJing at Avalon at the time, was marginally more sympathetic.

“The police weren’t particularly threatening to me but were typically rude when trying to clear the sidewalk out front,” Larry told Skrufff, “The police wont stop bothering the new owners of Avalon, until it is turned into a health food store,” he said.

Though Larry agreed the latest raids were ‘a little extreme’, he predicted they will have little impact long term on New York’s club scene, suggesting ‘it’s healthy to have new places and club changes’.

“Club owners have long been avoiding taxes and promoters that work with them should have more caution,” he added.

“No-one ever talks about club-owners that are in it for the quick buck and don’t pay taxes on the revenues they take in. It’s always the cops people blame because they have a reputation after the Giuliani administration,” he said.